Dec 8, 2021

South Dakota Historical Society Digitizes Important Suffrage Papers

The following press release was written by the South Dakota State Historical Society:

More than 3,765 women’s suffrage items from the John A. and Alice Pickler Papers are now available on the South Dakota Digital Archives of the South Dakota State Historical Society.

In 1991, 65 boxes of Pickler family records were donated to the State Historical Society-Archives at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre, including photographs, political papers, business records, and more than four boxes of suffrage-related correspondence, speech notes, meeting minutes, and booklets.

Recently, to improve access to the collection and to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Women’s Right to Vote, the suffrage portion of the Pickler Papers was selected for digitization and cataloging. These records are now available to the public on the South Dakota Digital Archives at

Digitization of this collection was made possible by a generous donation from the F.L. Clarkson Family Foundation.

State Archivist Chelle Somsen said, “We appreciate the F.L. Clarkson Family Foundation’s support that allowed us to make this selection of nationally significant records from the Pickler Papers available online.”

Major John A. Pickler and his wife Alice moved to Faulkton, Dakota Territory, in 1882 and became prominent citizens in the area. John was elected to the territorial legislature in 1884 and introduced suffrage legislation in 1885, which was unsuccessful. In 1889, John was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, making him part of South Dakota’s very first congressional delegation. He served in this capacity for eight years and actively advocated for women’s right to vote. Alice was also active in the suffrage movement as a member of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and the South Dakota Equal Suffrage Association.

Please contact the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation at 605-773-6003 or if you are interested in supporting digitization efforts. For information about membership in the State Historical Society call 605-773-6000 or email

About the South Dakota State Historical Society

The South Dakota State Historical Society is a division of the Department of Education. The State Historical Society, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is headquartered at the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre. The center houses the society’s world-class museum, the archives, and the historic preservation, publishing, and administrative/development offices. Call 605-773-3458 or visit for more information. The society also has an archaeology office in Rapid City; call 605-394-1936 for more information.

About the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation

The South Dakota Historical Society Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation and serves as the fundraising partner of the South Dakota State Historical Society. The Foundation assists in securing funds to collect, preserve, research, exhibit, and interpret history for the lifelong education and enrichment of present and future generations. For more information go to or call 605-773-6003.

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